As a student, I used to organize numerous dinner parties: they reflected the social animal in me, and were an excellent excuse to bring people together and have a riotously good time. But above all, perhaps, they provided a healthy distraction to the many minutes of studying I did every month.
After graduating, travelling around the globe and moving to Spain opened up a whole new world for me: I discovered new ingredients and tastes, sampled new cuisines and had the opportunity to extend my culinary knowledge on the way. Gradually, I started introducing these new ingredients and techniques into my own cuisine, often fusing them with my more traditional roots.
It was only when I started organizing culinary tours and cooking classes in Barcelona that I started digging more into where ingredients really came from. I remember talking to market stallholders for hours, picking their brains about all the different kinds of olives and how to pickle them, the different breed of pigs and the million ways of curing ham.
Spain has always had a very strong traditional cuisine: the variety of ingredients is simply overwhelming! On the flip side, for many years, that was all you could get there. After Franco’s death, the country opened up its doors, allowing an influx of new cuisines. This lead to the appearance of a number of excellent chefs (such as the legendary Ferran Adrià). The result was a dramatic shift in the whole culinary landscape. It was great to be there and enjoy this culinary revolution!
Around 10 years ago I moved to a stunning village in the Catalan Pyrenees. Living surrounded by spectacular nature made me much more aware of things. Here, there is simply more opportunity to really note the different seasons, the colours, the smells, the shapes… Also if you start growing your own vegetables (as I have), you realise how much love and care it takes, so you treat then with more respect… and, yes, they do have that extra spark of magic.
In the end, I suppose, nature has been my greatest inspiration. It made my senses work at full blast again!!